Flint water probe by Congress puts Snyder on witness list in March
FLINT, MI – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has added Gov. Rick Snyder to a roster of witness set to testify on the Flint water crisis.
Snyder shared his willingness on Friday, Feb. 12 to testify before the Congressional committee, stating he'd been in contact with U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, committee chairman, on Thursday about the possibility.
"We are committed to investigating the failures in Flint," reads a statement from the committee. "We appreciate Governor Snyder's willingness to appear before the Committee and look forward to hearing from EPA Administrator (Gina) McCarthy as well."
Snyder previously said he was not invited to the Feb. 3 Congressional hearing, but he would "seriously look" at the possibility.
Two witness panels set testify to before the committee include current and former officials:
Susan Hedman, former Region 5 Administrator. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Darnell Earley, Former Flint Emergency Manager
Dayne Walling, Former Flint Mayor
Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lundsford Professor of Environmental and Water Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Miguel Del Toral, Region 5 Water Expert, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Gov. Rick Snyder
Gina McCarthy, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
MJ Henshaw, press secretary for Chaffetz, said the hearing will take place sometime in March, but no official date has yet been set.
A Feb. 25 deposition is set for Earley, but Henshaw said it is closed to the public.
Dave Murray, press secretary for Snyder, said the governor will the opportunity to "discuss the need for a national conversation about lead pipes in our communities."
"We need to start looking, as a nation, at this infrastructure and what we can all do to protect residents – especially children – from lead exposure," Murray said. "This also is an opportunity to discuss the Lead and Copper Rule, and how states, cities and the federal agencies can work more closely together."
Lawmakers were quick with a response to Snyder's announcement.
U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, the ranking member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior, was thankful Snyder "has finally recognized the need to step up and aid Congress in the search for truth and justice on behalf of the city of Flint, and the children and families who will forever be scarred by this manmade disaster."
Lawrence, along with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter last month to Snyder requesting documents on the water crisis "relating to the decision to switch the source of drinking water in the City of Flint and the response to the health crisis that has ensued."
Cummings said on Friday that he would still like to see the documents, including emails dating back to 2013 when the state agreed with a water switch after the Flint City Council voted to stop buying Detroit water and join the Karegnondi Water Authority.
"It's a good thing the Governor has finally accepted one of the several requests from congressional committees to testify about this crisis," said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint. "Hopefully it also means he will produce all the documents requested by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 3. Unfortunately, we have yet to get the same type of aggressive oversight and hearings from the legislative bodies that share a building with him."
U.S. Rep Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, he was "glad to glad to see that Governor Snyder has agreed to testify under oath about the Flint water crisis after declining multiple requests to appear before Congress."
"The Governor's administration and his state-appointed emergency financial managers created this crisis and he must answer questions so that the whole truth can be found," he said. "Flint families deserve answers from the Governor and immediate solutions from the state about what is being done to make things right for the people of Flint."
The House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee, co-chaired by Congresswoman Rosa DeLaruo, D-Conn. and U.S. Rep Donna Edward, D-Md., and on which Kildee holds a leadership position, had asked the governor to testify during its Feb. 10 hearing, but he declined the offer.
Snyder was in Lansing on the date of the hearing delivering his 2017 fiscal year budget, which including $195 million towards the Flint water crisis.